Monday, February 7, 2011

Making an amends 36 years later

They say in AA that when you can't locate someone to make an amends, you state your willingness to do so and wait as opportunities will present themselves. Last Saturday morning, such an opportunity presented itself via email.

I got an email with "Duck?" in the subject line and a very strange-looking name. I figured it was spam, somebody wanting me to become the heir of 5 trillion dollars in Nigeria but I opened it and found a message from a best-selling novelist in Finland. He said that he had included a scene in his first book that involved his French teacher who had a large butterfly on the wall above her bed. He had been in Eugene, Oregon (hence the Duck?) in the spring of 1979. He was 22, the teacher 33. Was I that teacher?

Well, dang, I was. He had been a student in my French II class, I'd had a potluck party on a Friday night after the term was over for students from both my classes. I'd gotten very drunk and seduced him. Not one of my prouder moments. What's more, we made plans for the weekend (he was leaving for Finland on Monday). Then I went to a party Saturday, met the man I would spend the next 11 years with, and ignored Juhani's phone calls. I felt bad about it. I was mindful of his feelings but my own took precedence and I was so inept at dealing with my own guilt. My life went on.

I wrote him back last Saturday, owned my part, apologized for my rudeness and my callow treatment of his feelings. I had not forgotten him. Mostly I had not forgotten my poor behavior, which made it to my Fourth Step. I was grateful for a chance to clean that up. And flattered to think he would write abut it. The wonders of the Internet.  


LC said...

Isn't it wonderful that when we take a step forward in faith, affirmation that we are on the right (healing, growing, strengthening) track comes, sometimes immediately and sometimes after awhile.

Amy Livingstone, M.A. said...

Even though I'm not in recovery, there are many similar incidents, not so proud moments, from my past where I would like to make amends for my lack of skillfulness in dealing with relationship. What a gift that you were able to have this opportunity. Thanks for sharing so candidly, Jill.